4 min read

6 Surf Spots to Shred on the South Side of Kauai (Surf Series Pt. 1)

Kauai is by far my favorite of the Hawaiian islands. It’s lush, low key and you can find spots where you’re completely isolated, even just a short walk off the two lane highway that traverses the island.

This article will be the beginning of a short series highlighting different surf spots around the island. I’ll be focusing on the South Side of the island, specifically in the Poipu area.

My many visits to the island over the years has allowed me to find some a ton of surf spots to check out and see what best fits my skill level. These spots range from beginner to expert depending on what you might be feeling for the day and your level of skill.

The best part about all these spots - they’re all within walking distance of each other.

1. Waiohai Reef

Waiohai location on Google Maps

Location: Directly in front of the Waiohai Marriot Beach Club in Poipu
Experience Level: Intermediate to Expert
Wave Direction: Right and Left
Best Size: 3-10ft

Waiohai is by far one of my favorite waves on the island. It breaks going both ways, but the left is generally the longer and better ride. The wave on the outside is rolling and is easy to get situated on. You’ll want to bail before you get to the inside (unless you’re on a bodyboard) because the reef quickly shallows up to less than a foot into a quick and barreling inside section.

However, if there's a big swell in the area this probably isn't the spot to hit, since it doesn't hold the swell too well.


2. Shipwrecks Beach

Shipwrecks location on Google Maps

Location: In front of the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort
Experience Level: Intermediate to Expert
Wave Direction: Right
Best Size: 4ft to 2ft overhead

Shipwrecks is a great spot to catch some waves of a lifetime if it’s really turned on. This spot is a bit of a hybrid break - the waves come up from deeper water and quickly shoot up into multiple A-frames along the beach. The majority of the wave is located on a big rock slab that turns into sand the closer you get to the shore. There’s a great right that peels off a small rock point that serves up some fun ones if you’re in the right spot.

If you’re up for even more adventure before or after you hop in the water you can jump off the cliff (just make sure you do it at high tide and maybe watch a local do it - since there’s a reef outcropping at the bottom).


3. First Break

First Break's location on Google Maps

Location: 500+ yards outside of the Sheraton
Experience Level: Expert
Wave Direction: Right and Left
Best Size: Overhead to Double Overhead

Let’s just say, get ready to have your arms burn because it’s a 500 yard+ paddle to get out here. There’s a reef located out there that catches the deeper water swells when they come in, and it’s almost consistently a couple feet bigger than other spots in the area. It’s a fun right, but be prepared for the paddle. This is one of the “big wave” spots on the south shore since it gets the direct energy of a swell.

4. PK’s/Centers

PK's/Centers location on Google Maps

Location: In front of the Beach House Restaurant and Prince Kuhio Condos
Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Wave Direction: Right and Left
Best Size: 1ft to 2ft overhead

This is a great spot for all levels of surfers. The outside reef offers waves that are great for intermediate surfers (and fun for expert surfers to challenge themselves on). The inside has a small bay area where you can get on a foam board as a beginning and learn to surf on more manageable waves.


5. Acid Drops

Acid Drops location on Google Maps

Location: Next to the Sheraton
Experience Level: Intermediate to Expert
Wave Direction: Right and Left
Best Size: 4ft to 2ft overhead

Acid drops is one of the better waves on the South Shore when it's turned on. It's a fun right, but has it's name for a reason. You can expect to have a steep drop into the wave when you're getting up, so you better practice on how quickly you can stand up to nail the "Acid Drop".


6. Nukumoi Point (Nukes)

Nukumoi Point on Google Maps

Location: Poipu Beach Park
Experience Level: Expert
Wave Direction: Right and Left
Best Size: Overhead to Double Overhead

Nukes is a perfect name for this spot - because it’s explosive. The swell energy is channeled from deep water onto a reef point where you’ll see the water being sucked up from below sea level as the wave rises in front of you.

This point break has both a right and a left. If you go right, you’ll want to make sure you drop in at the right spot and the tide is deep enough. Even on a high tide, there’s a boiler rock towards the end of the barrel section that can pop up, so you need to be able to maneuver around it.

The left is a longer ride and has a closeout section at the end that you’re able to hit to do an air or pop off the back of the wave.

Nukumoi's in all its glory


Other Honorable Mentions:

Allertons Beach - Allertons is a neat little spot that requires a bit of hiking to get to. This wave is set up more for bodyboarders, but is secluded on Allerton Ranch.
Brennekes Beach - Brennekes beach is 100% a bodyboarding beach. The wave is a closeout over sandbars and you’ll catch a lot of the tourists out there.
Gillins Beach - Beware, this is a nude beach. There’s some fun waves on the reefs that span the beach if you make your way down the sand.
Heroins - A wave that’s earned it’s name. This wave only breaks on a big enough swell, and has a really quick drop into a nice barrel section in shallow water.

The south side of Kauai is lined with great waves. If none of these seem like the right spot for you, then you can always grab your board and just start walking down Poipu Road to see if there’s a spot where you want to hop in the water.

If you have suggestions, questions or are interested in writing for us, please feel free to reach out to info@coveredtraveler.com. Travel Safe. Travel Covered.

About the author:

James is the co-founder of Covered Traveler, and an avid traveler having visited 30 of the 50 states and multiple countries outside of the U.S. He enjoys traveling to places that are close to the water so he can fish, surf and relax on the beach.